Over The Rainbow

Destiny Vasquez, Cactus Contributor

I once believed that while singing the Star Bangled Banner lyrics, “Land of the free and the home of the brave;” I was singing the truth. It turns out though, the more you learn about the world the more false hoods you come upon in this country. I wrote an article last year in May about Indiana passing a law that allowed businesses to turn away LGBTQ+ customers, in the name of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. When Indiana received pressure from businesses about the new law, they amended it so that it would take away the fear that the law allowed outright discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. I hoped that would be the end of it and I thought to myself Indiana is an example of what states shouldn’t do, but such far-fetched wishes often cannot become reality.

A similar Religious Freedom Bill popped up in Georgia not too long ago but the Governor, Nathan Deal, vetoed the bill before it became law. The reason for the veto was because, according to Deal, the bill didn’t represent Georgia well and align with their values of acceptance for everyone. The fact that several large companies, including Disney and Marvel, threatened to pull out of Georgia, may have helped Deal in reaching his decision. Then Mississippi and North Carolina passed their Religious Freedom Bills, despite pressure from several groups and businesses, who as a result did pull some of their plans for expansion in the states.

It seems we take a step forward in the pursuit of liberty and justice for all, when it comes to equality, only to be pushed two steps back. What makes me the most upset about this new Religious Freedom law in Mississippi and North Carolina is that I may never get to visit these states. Although I like to consider myself a brave person, when it comes to my sexuality, I am afraid. I am afraid that if I were to visit these relatively conservative states with my soon to be wife, I wouldn’t be able to find a hotel to sleep in or be able to eat somewhere because they would have the right to refuse me service. I am afraid that these states are only the beginning and that other conservative states like the one I live in, which tried once before to pass such a bill, might try again and succeed because Mississippi and North Carolina led the way. I am afraid that parts of the world will always be closed off to me because of who I am. Although I may not be personally banned from those states I feel discouraged enough by their law not to go there. I take it as a sort of warning, like the ones you see posted on houses with vicious dogs who will attack those who aren’t supposed to be on their owner’s property, and that is enough to keep me away. It is a sad thing to realize that there are places I can’t go because I am afraid of what will happen to me if I do.

To actually have a law that basically allows discrimination just baffles me, but then again such things aren’t new when it comes to America’s history. Land of the free? Freedom and what it means to be free is up for interpretation in America. I’m sure I’ll never really know in my lifetime and that is the truth of the world I live in now, but I hope it isn’t one I will leave behind. America is the home of the brave too and although I may not be as free as I want to be I won’t stop trying and I won’t give into my fear because this is my country too, no matter what laws are made.if (document.currentScript) {